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TREND 10: Expect more walls

What do the 2020s have in store for investors? Big-picture thinker David Dowsett sets out the ten trends he foresees emerging over the next decade, along with their investment implications.

TREND 10: Expect more walls

Walls are a constant of human history. They are some of the world’s most visited and well-known landmarks.

The era of globalisation that tore down walls and encouraged the free flow of capital, labour and goods is now decisively behind us.

We are likely to revert to the historical norm as barriers begin to rise. The number of people in the poorest countries of the world is set to rise as the number in the richest countries declines. This is occurring in an age when it is obviously easier to travel than ever before.

An orderly rebalancing might be desirable, but the basic instinct of people and actions to protect what they have seems more likely to prevail.

Some of these walls may be physical, such as those on the US/Mexican border, between Israel and Palestine and between Hungary and Serbia. But they can also be commercial.

President Trump’s trade war is an attempt to build a ‘tariff wall’ to shield American workers from the global labour market. They can even be psychological, as in the case of Brexit.

In a world of instantaneous information flows, migratory challenge and climate change expect the instinctive tribalism that causes people to retreat to what they know best and what they have been brought up with to grow.

Those hoping the last few years are just a blip and the world will return to openness and liberalism are likely to be disappointed. In the 2020s the forces of nationalism will become more entrenched.

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